Mystery about PML-N’s next PM candidate

LAHORE – After announcement of Shehbaz Sharif as PML-N candidate for premiership after Election 2018, a big question arises on the role of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the party government and politics.

Although Shehbaz Sharif has been named as the candidate for PM’s slot, a mystery shrouds this move as this announcement has not been made formally by PML-N President Nawaz Sharif in a manner adopted in the case of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s nomination for the prime minister’s office after his disqualification as a member of the parliament through the judicial verdict. However, reports say some media persons were called to Jati Umra and the decision was shared with them during talks over dinner when Nawaz Sharif named his brother as future candidate of the party, replying to a question on his persistent disqualification. The party sources say the decision did not come through a formal meeting of the general council, executive committee or one taken by the party committee especially appointed for this purpose.

As such confusion strikes the mind of the party parliamentarians and workers as to how much weight can be given to this announcement. Barring Ch Nisar and a few others in the party, no comments have so far been made on Shehbaz Sharif’s nomination. On contact with some members of the party, this scribe found them not much certain about the decision although they did not find any shortcoming in Shehbaz Sharif for the office of the prime minister. They did not see the role of Nawaz Sharif diminishing in politics and the PML-N government even after the next elections. As to who would be finally named as prime minister, they have left the decision to this end to the future situation after the election. They highly value the role of Nawaz Sharif for the party and its victory in the next election and look at the nomination of Shehbaz Sharif for next premiership at this juncture when the elections are months away in the context of ending uncertainty in the party, keeping the party intact and giving a certain direction to voters.

Shehbaz Sharif was previously ditched many times on the promise of making him prime minister, so the party men would like to have a formal announcement of his candidature and perseverance and commitment on the same.

Peeping through the development after the disqualification verdict, the question strikes the abrupt change of mind on the part of PML-N President Nawaz Sharif after he, her daughter Maryam Nawaz and PML-N ministers created tremendous hype to see the former prime minister fourth time in the office after the next election.

The sitting prime minister has also not lost hope of Nawaz Sharif once again coming to the office and still calls him his PM. At the party level, disqualification decision is not being accepted and launch of Tehreek-e-Adl is being planned. Shehbaz Sharif’s nomination has come about in this background as a shift of thought accepting the ground realities and the focus is on winning the next elections. No one is ready to see minus-Nawaz Sharif PML-N.

In view of political observers, Nawaz Sharif’s role in the party and politics will remain undiminished, yet his role in the government may be determined after the elections provided the PML-N wins with majority to scrap his disqualification from the parliament, which nevertheless, may not be that easy.

For the political opponents, Nawaz Sharif’s decision about his brother has been found unsavory for how the N president has presumed a certain victory of his party in the elections.

Shehbaz Sharif is indeed a worthy and competent administrator who also commands a huge popularity in the party and the province at every level. His role is quite appreciable not only in national but also in international affairs. Among the world leaders and diplomatic quarters, Shehbaz Sharif is well respected for his administrative acumen and sharp intelligence in international affairs. The recently held OIC conference on Palestine and accolade to him at a meeting by the foreign diplomats speaks volumes of his international acceptability.

At the level of observers, Shehbaz Sharif can boost the party and manage cordial relations with the institutions if he is made the PM.

Speaking on this subject, former information minister Senator Pervez Rashid endorsed the mind of Nawaz Sharif and said Shehbaz Sharif is the most suitable person for premiership after Nawaz Sharif. When asked why a formal announcement of his name was not made, he recalled the time when Pervez Musharraf in 2001 declared Nawaz Sharif disqualified as PML-N head and then Shehbaz Sharif was appointed president of the party with Javed Hashmi acting in his absence. He said Nawaz Sharif can continue as president of the party in case Shehbaz Sharif becomes the PM.

Reckoning performance of Shehbaz Sharif par excellent in Punjab and his helping hand to the other provinces, Pervez Rashid also saw him commanding a better position in other provinces than the leaders who also aspire for the premiership on the basis of service in the province they govern. Nawaz Sharif has set the principles to ensure respect to ballot, performance of the N government and a vision to further serve the people after the next election which are going to form the strong basis for the party victory in the next election, he said.

When asked why they were so sure about the majority victory of the PML-N in the next election, he said had the PML-N victory not been a hovering fear, attempts would not have been made to create cracks and chaos in the party through the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif. Pervez also sounded sure about the on-time election and Shehbaz Sharif future candidate for premiership.


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